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The West Highland Way is one of the UK's finest long distance walks, but the path runs close to a busy main road and avoids the mountain tops. NOT The West Highland Way describes alternative routes over mountains, smaller hills or high passes to all but one of the Way's nine stages. With add-on day trips over Ben Lomond or Beinn Dorain.
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The West Highland Way is one of the finest of Britain’s long-distance paths. It passes through six separate mountain ranges, running from Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow alongside her longest loch, to the foot of Scotland’s highest mountains. But it runs close to a busy main road and avoids the mountain tops.
NOT The West Highland Way makes the most of the surrounding area, taking in sights that the linear Way doesn't allow. It crosses Ben Lomond and Beinn Dorain, the charming Campsie Fells and the mighty Mamores, while the crossing of the Black Mount from Inveroran to Glen Coe represents the best pub-to-pub to be found in Britain. Much better to cross these mountains than to pass them on your way by.
With mountain alternatives to all but one of the West Highland Way's nine standard stages, this guidebook takes you on a higher and wilder journey. By taking the best of what the standard Way has to offer and adding in all its diversions away from the linear paths, and get to the heart of what makes the West Highland Way so great.
There is a finer crossing through the Mamores, longer than the original Route 12 over Sgurr an Iubhair, and more backpackish (as well as more sheltered) as it uses two passes and takes in the really beautiful bit of Glen Nevis. It starts as Route 15, then passes Coire an Lochain and runs between Binnein Mor and Binnein Beag to arrive high up in Glen Nevis. The paths are good, apart from a rough descent into Glen Nevis.
Route information: distance: 27.5km; ascent: 850m, approximate time: 8½ hours; maximum altitude: 780m (flank of Sgurr Eilde Beag)
(If you finish at Nevis Youth Hostel you save 3.5km.)
16: A Wilder Two-day...
Day 2: The footbridge across Allt Chabhar below Clashgour (NN237420) has been removed. Usually the stream can be forded: an alternative footbridge is 800 metres upstream, above Clashgour.
Day 3: Loch Etive Head to Kings House (new)
Much nicer than the 6km of roadwalking up Glen Etive, there's an old path on the east side of the river to a footbridge at Dalness.
WH Way Rowardennan to Inversnaid
The 'little-used alternative path' has been radically smoothed and rebuilt (2014) so that it is now very comfortable and pleasant going, and there's no reason at all to prefer the less interesting track route above.
Deer fences have fallen and been rebuilt. There's a new deer fence across Bealach Cruinn a' Bheinn, but it's possible to squeeze between the wires so as to get up Cruinn a' Bheinn itself. The old fence that used to pass over the summit has more or less vanished, so you'll need a compass bearing (northwest) for the best line off the summit. (Following the new fence around the west side of Cruinn a' Bheinn is possible, but has harsh tussocks and bog all the way.)
The High Road and the Low
When to go
Safety in the mountains
How to use this book
A Winter Not the West Highland Way
1 Hill Option: the Campsie Fells
2 Rowardennan Outing: Ben Lomond
3 Hill Crossing: Ben Lomond to Inversnaid
4 Hill Crossing: Beinn a’ Choin
5 Inverarnan Outing: Beinn Chabhair
6 Hill Crossing: Ben Lui
7 Crianlarich Outing: An Caisteal and Beinn a’ Chroin
8 Hill Crossing: the Back of Beinn Dorain
9 Inveroran Outing: Ben Inverveigh and Meall Tairbh
10 Hill Crossing: Black Mount
11 Hill Crossing: Beinn a’ Chrulaiste and the Blackwater
12 Hill Crossing: Mamores
13 Hill Crossing: More Mamores
14 Fort William Outing: Ben Nevis by the CMD Arête
The excitement is in tents
Midges are unpleasant
May is the month
Shoulder-strengthening short trips
The off-route food-fetching formula
Stuff, stuffsacks, and throwing it all away
15 A mostly gentle two-day: the Back of Ben Nevis
16 A wilder two-day: Taynuilt to Bridge of Orchy
17 Dumbarton Start
18 Wrong side of the Loch: the Arrochar Alps
19 The Etive Trek
20 Blackwater and the Lairig Leacach
21 Routes of Rannoch
22 Corrour to Dalwhinnie
23 Fort William to Inverie
24 Spean Bridge to Cluanie and even Cape Wrath
Appendix 1: Access
Appendix 2: Useful information
Appendix 3: Further reading